Osgoode Hall Law School, a pioneer in experiential and social justice-oriented legal education, has launched an environmental justice and sustainability clinical program to start in Fall 2015.
In this year-long clinical program, students explore the theory and practice of public interest environmental law, working on files chosen for their likely lasting positive impact on environmental justice and sustainability.
The program will be co-directed by Adjunct Professor David Estrin, a pioneer of environmental law in Canada, and Professor Stepan Wood, an expert in environmental law and corporate social responsibility.
Faculty Council of Osgoode Hall Law School approved the creation of the clinical program earlier today. The program will welcome 8-12 students in its first year of operation. It expects to gear up to 15-20 students at full strength.
The Program’s dual focus on remedying environmental injustice and promoting sustainability makes it unique among environmental law clinical programs in Canada. “Environmental justice” mobilizes environmental, civil rights, anti-racist, anti-poverty, aboriginal rights and feminist agendas to challenge the unequal distribution of environmental burdens and benefits in society. “Sustainability” involves the simultaneous pursuit of ecological integrity, social equity and economic prosperity within the biophysical constraints of local and planetary ecosystems.
This dual mandate encompasses a broad range of subject-matter, including biodiversity, energy, water, food, climate change, pollution, resource extraction, land use planning, human rights, green technology, social enterprise, corporate social responsibility, toxic torts, and regulatory compliance. It also includes a variety of types of legal work, including litigation, law reform, legislative drafting, community legal education and outreach, and business law services that advance sustainable or social enterprise. Clients may include individuals, community groups, public interest non-governmental organizations, First Nations, municipalities, cooperatives, social enterprises and other organizations affected by environmental injustice or interested in advancing sustainability. The Program may also work in its own name (eg legal education materials or submissions to policymakers or judicial inquiries).
The EJS Clinical Program selects files for their potential to advance environmental justice or sustainability. The Program may work on files provided by external organizations or initiate its own files. The Program does not have a public storefront, but in exceptional cases may take a case directly from the public. Files are drawn from across Canada, with an emphasis on Ontario. Students’ clinical work is supervised by the lawyer(s) with professional responsibility for the file. In the case of files initiated by the Clinical Program, this means the Program’s in-house review counsel (not yet in place, subject to budgetary approval). In the case of files provided by external organizations, it means lawyer(s) at the external organization. Students working on external files are not placed physically with external organizations. They conduct their clinical work at Osgoode.
The program has three components: clinical work (9 credits, ungraded), seminar (3 credits, graded), and research assignment (3 credits, graded).
For 2015-16, students will be selected for the program via a special application process after Spring exams. In subsequent years, they will be selected via the consolidated clinical/intensive program application process in January.
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Posted April 6, 2015 by Stepan